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January 22

Like Joey Feek, Let’s Find Refuge in “I Need Thee Every Hour”

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“Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”

(Psalms 86:1)

Over the years, hymns provided us comfort for over their most difficult times. The same can be said of Joey Feek. Joey is one half of the Christian country music duo Joey + Rory.  Joey fought a battle with cervical cancer back in 2016.

Like Joey Feek, Let’s Find Refuge in “I Need Thee Every Hour” 1

Soothing Hymn to Joey during Her Last Days

We have heard his husband Rory talk about Joey’s words battling cancer. Rory said Joey may not have too many days before seeing Jesus. Over her whole suffering, she has had some very trying times. Most of the time, singing of hymns made it a little easier. When she found out she had cancer, she sung it over and over still believing she will be healed. Feek cited “I Need Thee Every Hour” as he recalled Joey singing it before going in for surgery. And again, waking up in the middle of the night singing two days after her surgery.

Joey once said,

“I’m hooked up to every machine possible; and out of just complete thankfulness that I came through, I remember having the strength to sit up enough, and my hands just elevated over my head, and I sang [the hymn], 

“I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.”

 “Every hour, He got me through … and it was hard, and I needed Him every hour, and I still do to this day – there are days that are just hard.”

Inspiration for the Writer and It’s Bible Complement

Annie Hawks wrote the song in 1872 in her own words. It was a bright June day, and she felt so near to God. She began to wonder how anyone could live without Him, in either joy or pain. Swiftly, the words ‘I need Thee every hour’, rushed into her mind, and suddenly she was possessed by the thought. A few months later, Dr. Robert Lowry composed the tune needed and added the refrain. Annie made 400 hymn texts, but “I Need Thee Every Hour” is the only hymn of hers that is still sung today.

Following the death of her husband, Hawks reflected on the power of her song:

“At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later, however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.”

The phrase “I need thee” is at the center of the closeness expressed in this hymn. Its tireless repetition is a mutual style used by hymn creators. With the refrain added, Hawks’ hymn pleads “I need thee” 20 times when all five stanzas are sung.


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